Unlimited Resources?

Sunday, 2007-August-26 at 14:28 1 comment

In Mozilla To T-bird: Move Out , I said that Mozilla had limited resources to devote to development, with the idea that the overwhelming popularity of Firefox meant that any time there was a question of resource allocation, Firefox would prevail over Thunderbird.

Eyal Rozenberg responded:

Actually, Mozilla’s resources are almost unlimited at this point, with dozens of Millions pouring in from Google. All the features you mention – I would guess there have been open bugs for them for yeaes on bugzilla.mozdev.org… but with just 2 developers working on the project, they can do little other than putting out fires (heh, pun there); certainly they can’t take on new large-scale projects like integration of calendaring, IM, etc. Even the core itself has its problems – important parts of Thunderbird’s core are a big mess dating from the mid 1990s which badly needs a rewrite (e.g. the MIME library; Thunderbird does not even have an internal representation of a mail message with its content which can be manipulated in code).

So I think at this point in time the talk about specific missing features and future development roadmap is somewhat of a diversion from the problem of the big stash of money, and why tb development isn’t getting any of it, and why it seems it is managed like the undesired stepchild of Mozilla.

Upon further reflection, I thought about the difficulty in getting modern equipment in an organization with nearly unlimited resources which I am familiar with.  Add to that the fact that even with Google’s help, Mozilla’s resources are not unlimited.  I can see why they might allocate things the way they do: Firefox has a far greater user base, and has a far greater potential user base.

This is only partly because of the missing pieces and misfeatures I pointed out.  Even if it was perfect, it would find it difficult to compete with Web-based e-mail services, just because your Web-based service is available from any connected computer.  Your POP3 or IMAP4 client must be installed and configured for each computer you use it on.  And, at least with Gmail, a message you picked up on computer A(using POP3 access) is no longer available for pickup on computer B (using POP3).  That has been my experience, anyway.  This is a serious defect, in my opinion, one which Web access does not share.

Still, when I log into Gmail with T-bird, it is so much faster that the experience is truly worthwhile.  The speed with which I am actually reading my messages instead of waiting to log in tells me that clients like T-bird will always have their place.  If the things I mentioned were fixed, perhaps T-bird’s use would grow to the point where it would be worthwhile to put more resources into it. 

The first thing one must do when contending for higher resource allocations is establish a rational justification.  Sometimes that entails asking for a temporary allocation so that a particular obstacle can be tacked, in the hope that tackling that obstacle will lead to the kind of increase that warrants continued investment of additional resources.

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Entry filed under: Software.

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1 Comment

  • 1. Claws - My New Mail Client « Opportunity Knocks  |  Thursday, 2008-March-06 at 04:46

    […] 2008-March-04 I’ve written before about Thunderbird and Evolution mail clients.  I have been using T-bird and Kmail as my e-mail clients for a […]

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